Change of perspective: in dialogue with citizens
We were a group of 10 people in Paderborn for a week as Stadtdenker, or city thinkers. Our aim was to enter into dialogue with citizens who have never previously thought about architecture, urban design, or Baukultur, and to offer them a fresh perspective on their familiar everyday city. The official sights were of less interest to us than were the many disregarded “places of worthiness” at the wayside – the hidden urban qualities and the supposedly ugly, which, on closer inspection, has a very idiosyncratic charm.
During the so-called ‘Stadtdenker’ week, we held a series of playful actions and alternative city tours, told fictional stories, and carried out small and large on-site interventions, all of which aimed at creating awareness of the old and familiar, and viewing it from a new perspective. Our project was intended to serve as a model and could be initiated in a very similar form in every city of up to approximately 350,000 inhabitants.
Our most important insight was that it was unexpectedly easy to enter into a dialogue about Baukultur with the citizens and that with our strategy, we could appeal to a very broad segment of the population and highly diverse age and population groups.